Archive for April, 2012

two major announcements: bone walker and cracksman betty

So many awesome things are going on right now that I have to combine announcements! It’s crazytalk. But before I get to that, even, a quick reminder: I’m guesting tonight on The House of Julie with Julie Cascioppo, 7:30pm, in Seattle, with several other musicians including Roo Forrest, Elaine Bono, Jean Mann, and Bill White. I’m Julie’s first guest of the night; come see the show!


FIRST: The new album – the remixed/remastered/rerecorded Cracksman Betty – will drop Monday, May 7, 2012. It’ll lead off with a completely new track, “Song for a Blockade Runner/High Barbaree,” the pirate’s version of that tale, recast in the fight for Cascadian independence, musically and lyrically original.

My beta listeners have described the album as “impressive,” “SO MUCH BETTER” [than the work prints], “awesome,” and, in one notable case:

everything I hear in these tracks is totally Next Level from what came before.

Caps of Awesome as in the originals. Fuck. Yeah.

This is our long-promised traditional-music album. But of course, we can’t leave it at that; this “traditional” music is re-cast in the Republic of Cascadia, songs of piracy, riot, and revolution, with new interpretation, new history, and far more often than you’d expect on a “traditional” album, new music.

You’ll hear more about that – and some of our guest performers – this week.

SECOND: We’re doing a soundtrack album. For reals, assuming the Kickstarter makes it. It’s a book companion for the novels Faerie Blood and Bone Walker. We’ve already committed Sunnie Larsen (who has played with several bands including Bone Poets Orchestra and Vixy & Tony) and Leannan Sidhe, with whom we’ve worked before. And we’re in talks with more.

Bone Walker will be a mix of readings, original music, and the traditional music referenced in the books. It’ll be something new for all of us, which is always awesome. And again – more announcements will be forthcoming!

FINALLY, talking of Leannan Sidhe, they have their own Kickstarter running for their second studio album, More to Love. I’ve heard some of the material; these are some pretty subversive fairy tales. So of course, we’re onboard – I’ve backed the project personally, with, you know, money. My money. Not even stolen! So you know I mean it.

Currently there’s an extra incentive package: a signed print of a sketch from the album cover artist (Rob Carlos), a print of the aurora photograph that’s going to be used in that album cover, and a handwritten card from the band. That’s all in addition to the regular backer bonuses for whoever gets them to $2000.

God damn can you believe all this? And we have more things cooking I’m not even talking about here. More than can fit into this post. But one more super-sneak preview, a whisper, a ghost, a rumour of rage, an echo of elfmetal, a part two of a bigger story, a title:

Din of Thieves.

Muah ha ha ha ha ha!

two big announcements coming monday

Two big announcements coming on Monday morning. One’s already up, in audio form. 😀

diy video: making cheap acoustic sound baffles

I’ve posted the DIY video on making cheap acoustic sound baffles up on YouTube! Two lessons:

  1. iMovie is seriously not capable of handling videos this long (50m, from a 1h37m rough-cut) – everything takes literally 2-7 seconds to select or move or anything. So it’s CLICK wait 3 seconds [highlighted] MOVE MOUSE TO DRAG OBJECT wait 7 seconds for object to move partly there wait 4 more seconds for object to move further to the wrong place RAEG.
  2. YouTube takes forEVER to process videos this long, omg. I still don’t have preview graphics. XD

I wanted to do looping and sync sound but had to abandon that idea and do live sound because iMovie choked too hard. But the live sound is okay. Plus, birdsong! I was working half-outdoors.

Beta listeners, if you’re listening, please let me know about those recordings – thanks! Everybody else, don’t forget the show on Monday. Have a good weekend, everybody!

This post is part of The DIY Studio Buildout Series, all on building out a home recording studio.

video editing

Working on a DIY video for how to make your own studio sound baffles the way I do. I needed to make a new one (or two, or three…) for nwcMUSIC next year if I want to do that “Find your Instrument” workshop again, so it seemed the time. Who knew editing the video would take almost as long as both shooting it and actually making a baffle?


other people have music

Other people have music! I knew this was possible.

  1. Leannan Sidhe have added an incentive – whoever gets them to four digits on their recording Kickstarter gets album art design sketch prints.

    Cool stuff nobody else gets is awesome, and it’s just whoever gets them to $1000, no specific amount required. As I’m writing this, they aren’t far off from that level, so check it – it might still be available!

  2. I kind of skipped DEVO’s comeback Something for Everybody album when it came out in 2010, thinking they’d been done for a long time, and not caring for nostalgia acts. But having finally bought it – wow, was I wrong. They had unfinished business to do. SoE is New Traditionalists-level work, without retreading; good parts and a sum which is greater.

    Standouts: Fresh, What We Do, Mind Games, Later is Now. Only one real misstep (Cameo). Of particular note: No Place Like Home, possibly the least-DEVO-like Devo song they ever recorded, and a vector showing where they might’ve gone in better hands. But listen to the album as a unit.

  3. This isn’t music, but Anna’s fantasy novel kickstarter for Faerie Blood and Bone Walker has also added an incentive: whoever gets her to $3000 gets to name a character after themselves and have that character killed off. It’ll be either in the third Kendis Thompson book, or a future Warder universe story.

    I suspect you can also name the character someone else. I hope you can, anyway. XD

It’s a hard time to be in the creative classes, particularly in the States, where support for non-commodifyable culture has been on the rocks for years. This article is both relevant and interesting on that point. So go help make up for that kind of crap, and launch some art!

international fukkit day

i am told today is international fukkit day. the all lower-case is important. this is good because i’m pretty wiped from the Genticorum afterparty last night. XD

I mean, seriously, even Anna was all ‘but there’s still crisps and stompy’ as we dragged ourselves home to bed sometime after 1am. On a Sunday.

A week from today! I’m a guest on The House of Julie, a variety/chat show held in a theatre:

Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center, (4649 Sunnyside Ave N), Wallingford, Seattle, Monday, April 30th at 7:30pm. Poster here.

I’m gonna make some sound baffles today, and make video of that for youtubes. Bending carpet seems about the right speed right now. And I’m pretty sure you won’t see that on The Legend of Korra. XD

never when i started

Oh guys seriously I did not think Cracksman Betty could sound this good. Not what’s online now; the re-engineered/re-mastered version that’s in progress. It’s always going to be a bit of a jumble as an album, having been originally just a place to put all my trad-o’-the-week/fortnight/month songs, but it’s so much better a jumble than I ever thought it would or even could be.

And I don’t mean just individually as songs, I mean as an album. It’s actually starting to hang together as a work. I don’t know what to call it – Alternate History Folk, maybe? But that’s awfully long. Regardless, it has a form now. It is shadowy and rough, but it is a beast, of genus undetermined.

I’m even thinking of asking Kickstarter if it wants to pay for mastering. No lie.

Did I mention there’s a new track? I don’t think I mentioned there’s a new track. There is! “Song for a Blockade Runner/High Barbaree.” I’m really excited about it.

Of all the reset-in-Cascadia traditional folk, this is the most changed from its original; it makes “Columbia” sound unedited. “High Barbaree” is about taking down pirates; “Song for a Blockade Runner” is the other side of that story, in 1973, during the Cascadian War for Independence, a goddamn hardscrabble pirate and smuggler anthem. It’s new music, too – not so much a traditional-song rendition as a long-lost fraternal twin, come in from the cold Salish sea.

12 tracks on the CD, if I print one. 13 tracks online, with “S-100 Bus,” which has to be online only for licensing reasons. Eleven songs, plus two “radio edit” versions as bonus tracks.

None of this is going live quite yet – I’m still twiddling bits and I want to redub another line of vocals. But – it’s coming. Soon. 😀

PS: Anna’s fantasy novel Kickstarter just hit 45% and she’s dropped an excerpt from “Blood of the Land,” another Warder universe story, as a teaser. She’s really hoping to hit 50% this weekend. Check it out!

faerie blood and bone walker

My partner Anna is a writer; her first book – Faerie Blood – appeared a few years ago, from Drollerie Press. It was out as an ebook and selling briskly, so Drollerie planned a paperback release, and to publish its sequel, Bone Walker, as well. But sadly, the founder’s health went bad, and they shuttered before any of these plans could materialise.

So Anna’s decided rather than shopping around, she’ll take matters into her own hands and launch a Kickstarter project to get both books back into print.

I made the video. Video is fun! I’m also her book designer, but not cover artist or editor – those are Kiri Moth and JoSelle Vanderhooft, respectively.

Faerie Blood‘s a good book. It got some great reviews. Something’s Coming is part of the Bone Walker soundtrack. (I also have a tiny, tiny cameo. 😀 ) So go over to the Kickstarter project, read the sample chapters, play the video, and if you like what you’re seeing, support the project.

And pass this around, too. Publishing books is expensive; she needs to hit $4000 in pledges or none of it goes through. She got almost a third of the way there in the first day, tho’! That’s kind of amazing. Girl has fans is what. 😀

okay i gotta say something here

So I’ve been working on re-engineering Cracksman Betty this last week. I’ve learned a lot over the last year, I gotta tell you, and that’s awesome. That web album – a collection of live-in-studio and live-at-shows tracks – will sound a lot better when I’m finished. Particularly the live-in-studio.

But then I went and listened to a bunch of little indie band recordings tonight for various reasons, and maybe I’m extra sensitive to it because I’m remastering/re-engineering a bunch of my own learning experiences, but I posted this series of tweets around 1am Sunday morning:


Go to 1974. Buy the song “Pretzel Logic” by Steely Dan. It’s the title track for Pretzel Logic. You don’t need the whole album. STUDY. Now you know how to do aural placement.

Then go to 1984 and buy the song “Only When You Leave” by Spandau Ballet, on Parade. When you can mic like that? Now you can mic drums.

This tweet series brought by FOR THE LOVE OF GOD A ROCK KIT SHOULD HAVE MORE AURAL IMPACT THAN OATMEAL, & hearing one too many mushcordings.

Also, bonus pro tip: reverb is not cruise control for awesome.

Just sayin’.

Because goddamn.

I stand by these tweets, but they’re really basic rock kit micing for pop and rock. There’s nothing bombastic in either, but they’re easy to study, highly competent, and have flairs of art. (I’d swap “I’ll Fly for You” for “Only When You Leave” – same band and album – if you want a drum kit with some folk drums included. My gods there’s so much space and air in the drums in that recording, it’s beautiful. But now I’m diverting myself.)

I want to open the floor for recommendations. It doesn’t have to be drum recording. It can’t be so complex that you can’t learn from it – I pick that Steely Dan track because it’s 1974 and they’ve really figured out stereo by then and have a good grip on it, but aren’t going crazy yet. I pick that Spandau Ballet recording because it’s so very transparent, and also, because mics of the types they’re using which were fantastically expensive then aren’t so bad now. One might even venture “affordable.” Certainly for rental prices.

So. You tell me. What can people listen to in order to learn how to do this stuff right?

i made a video for somebody else

I dropped a release candidate video for Anna and her book reprint/series extension Kickstarter earlier this evening; she’s pleased. So far, nobody in her crew is kicking it back, either.

This video stuff is kinda fun. Less of a learning curve than recording studio so far, but I’ve used a bunch of these skills before. Recording live audio for sync was kind of interesting too – I had three sources (on camera true live, on-recorder broad-field mic pair sync sound, on-boom-stand large can cap mic, also sync sound. I ended up using exclusively the large-can cap, but despite it being the least noisy of the three, and despite what seemed to be a pretty quiet room, the uncontrolled environment still creates quite a quality and noise problem.

But I think it sounds okay. It was work to get it there, and it’s not as good as if I’d recorded the sound in a studio and looped it, but… it’s pretty okay. I’ll point at it more closely once it’s public. ^_^

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